Back in February I wrote a post entitled Rating the Meme Trackers. At the time I rated Memeorandum (now known as Techmeme) as the best, but I thought Topix and Tailrank were right up there too. Tailrank has just launched a new version, labeled - you guessed it - Tailrank 2.0. It has a new UI, but the main change is an overhaul of its ranking algorithms. Developer Kevin Burton wrote:
"Tailrank now breaks stories faster, cluster them better, and generally does a better job at finding the hottest news in the blogosphere."
In terms of how it performs compared to market leader Techmeme, an easy way to compare these news tracking services is to do a spot check and see which one covers the most interesting stories. Right now (9pm PST on a Monday) Tailrank's tech homepage is this:
Both sites covered similar top stories, with slightly different ranking - MySpace predators, Edelman/Wal-Mart. And my own recent featured post, Movable Type Enterprise 1.5 Launched, shows up in similar places. Really not a lot of difference, in the main stories at least. A longer analysis would uncover whose algorithms are the best - in timeliness, relevancy, etc.
One point of difference is how many sites each tracks. Tailrank currently tracks around 150,000 blogs and news websites. And Kevin told me they're going to expand their index even more in the next few weeks "and slowly grow Tailrank into a larger blog tracking service." Techmeme relies on a smaller set for its base index - which as Techcrunch points out, has been an issue in the blogosphere at times.
The main immediate difference though is in the UIs and featuresets. The Tailrank UI is colorful and the scannability has definitely improved since last time I reviewed it. Techmeme's UI is more sparse, but easier to scan - which is what I personally like about it.
Tailrank also has a number of nice 'extra' features - e.g. search, ability to track a specific thread by RSS or IM, list of top posts from yesterday. Techmeme doesn't have those extras. But when it comes down to it - what Techmeme does do, it does extremely well (i.e. track news). And that after all is the primary reason for its existence.
So in summary I like Tailrank's improvements. But it's still to prove itself in terms of its news tracking algorithms, which is what Techmeme excels at. The 'news tracking' space is always interesting to watch though, so let's see if Tailrank 2.0 performs well and so attracts bloggers as much as Techmeme has.